New York: Kenyans Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany surged at the finish to win Sunday`s New York City Marathon, holding off rivals over the closing strides in Central Park for narrow triumphs.
Kipsang, making his New York debut, held off Lelisa Desisa to win in two hours, 10 minutes and 59 seconds, defeating the Ethiopian by seven seconds with Ethiopia`s Gebre Gebremariam third in 2:12:13.
Kipsang looked Desisa in the eyes in the final stretch and then pulled away to claim the $100,000 (80,000 euro) top prize and take the 2013-14 World Marathon Majors bonus top prize of $500,000 (400,000 euros).
"Towards the end, I saw Desisa was very close to me and very strong," Kipsang said. "I saved some energy for that final sprint. I knew in the final 100 meters he couldn`t beat me."
Keitany, competing in her first marathon since finishing fourth at the 2012 London Olympics while one month pregnant with her second child, won in 2:25:07 with compatriot Jemima Sumgong three seconds back and Portugal`s Sara Moreira third in 2:26:00.
The winning margin matched the closest women`s race in New York history, established by Britain`s Paula Radcliffe in her 2004 victory over Kenya`s Susan Chepkemei, the first of the English women`s three New York crowns.
In cold and cloudy conditions, runners battled headwinds or crosswinds over most of the hilly 26.2-mile course through America`s largest city, creating the slowest men`s winning time since Mexico`s German Silva won in 2:11:00 in 1995.
It was the third victory in a row for Kipsang, who captured the Berlin title last year and won last April in London.
Kipsang had planned to make his New York debut in 2012, when the race was called off because of damage from Hurricane Sandy, making the triumph extra special.
"I was really hoping to compete in this race," Kipsang said. "I love New York."Kenya`s Geoffrey Mutai, who won in 2011 and 2013, was seeking his third title in a row but settled for sixth, foiled in his bid to match Alberto Salazar`s victory streak from 1980-1982 and move one shy of American Bill Rodgers, who won a record four in a row from 1976-1979.
Mutai, also sixth at the London Marathon won by Kipsang last April, was one spot behind Uganda`s Stephen Kiprotich, the reigning world and Olympic champion. American Meb Keflezighi, who won at Boston in April, was fourth in 2:13:18.
Kipsang took the World Marathon Majors prize from Dennis Kimetto, who won in September at Berlin in 2:02:57 to break Kipsang`s old world record by 26 seconds.
Desisa had won his marathon debut last year in Dubai and also won last year in Boston while Gebremariam won the New York Marathon in 2010.
Priscah Jeptoo did not defend her New York women`s title, pulling out last month due to a leg injury.
Keitany and Sumgong pulled away from the pack at the two-hour mark to make the title fight a two-woman battle over the final miles. Sumgong pulled a few strides ahead with a mile remaining but Keitany closed back on the leader`s left shoulder and then moved ahead at the 26-mile mark and stayed in front to the end.
Keitany, 32, had twice been third in New York while Sumgong, 29, was coming off a 2:20:41 personal best from her fourth-place finish in Boston last April.